A new operator’s arrival last month and a visit from the Commemorative Air Force this Fourth of July weekend are helping to mark Stinson Municipal Airport’s 100th anniversary. Stinson is the nation’s second oldest general aviation airport in continuous operation. As the primary reliever for general aviation traffic in San Antonio, Stinson appeals to operators of light aircraft, individuals, and private aviation companies. It also appeals to enthusiasts of flight nostalgia. The Commemorative Air Force-Central Wing was represented at Stinson over the holiday weekend with flights and tours of vintage military aircraft. Leading the CAF vintage warbird expo were the Texas Raiders, the famed B-17 Flying Fortress joined by the B-25 Mitchell bomber Yellow Rose, the C-47 Skytrain Bluebonnet Belle as well as the AT-6 “Texan” and N3N “Yellow Peril.”
All five aircraft are notable for their historic importance and level of restoration. Of the 12, 731 B-17’s built across the US, only nine are currently flying— and Texas Raiders features authentic machine guns and period-specific equipment. The North American B-25 Mitchell bomber Yellow Rose is also rare—one of only 27 of the remaining famous bombers that first attacked Tokyo. The C-47 Bluebonnet Belle is one of the renowned aircraft in military history, as it played a crucial part in the Allied victory in World War II.
As mentioned, aviation ventures continue to make Stinson part of their business. An example of this comes in the form of GateOne, a full-service fixed base operator, which in late June began serving general and private aircraft at Stinson. A reception was held June 22 where attendees toured the GateOne facility and learned about the kinds of aviation service that continues to come to the South San Antonio facility.
“We are so pleased to welcome GateOne as part of the unfolding story of Stinson Airport,” said District 3 City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran in a press release. “As the second oldest general aviation airport in continuous operation in the United States, it is rewarding to see this historical airport raise the bar of customer experience as it enters this new phase of operations.”
City officials said GateOne’s decision to operate from Stinson can help to lure more aviation traffic to that airport, and to encourage the growth of related supporting businesses on the South Side. GateOne officials said their company’s arrival at Stinson comes at an opportune time as more improvements have been happening there and more are planned. Last year, the city received $4.5 million in federal funds to boost several city-led improvements at and around the airport. The facility was received an upgrade for lighting and signage, and a narrowing of taxiways and runways to meet new federal standards, late last summer. Short-term plans also call for a new air traffic control tower. The airport also had a new restaurant open there as a sign of modernization and enhancements at the facility.